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Key residential school documents might be stored at Oblates archives in Rome

The Oblates operated 48 of the forced assimilation institutions, including Saskatchewan’s Marieval School and the school in Kamloops, B.C., where the unmarked graves of 215 children were uncovered.
Kamploos Indian Residential School (Archdiocese of Vancouver Archives cira 1937)
Kamploos Indian Residential School (Archdiocese of Vancouver Archives cira 1937)

(ANNews) - The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is collaborating with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to access historical documents about residential schools that could be stored in Rome, CBC News reports.

"At this point, no one has identified what specific materials might be relevant," Father Ken Thorson, an Oblate leader in Canada, said in the release.

OMI Lacombe Canada, which represents Oblates organizations across Canada, as well as Quebec’s Notre Dame du Cap, are working with administrators in Rome to create a third-party process to determine whether any relevant documents are stored at the Oblate's General House Archive. 

The Oblates operated 48 of the forced assimilation institutions, including Saskatchewan’s Marieval School and the school in Kamloops, B.C., where the unmarked graves of 215 children were uncovered.

"This collaboration between the NCTR and the Oblates is the start of a path we are forging together through engagement, dialogue, and meaningful conversations," NCTR executive director Stephanie Scott said. 

The Winnipeg-based centre is committed "to finding all residential school records no matter where they are located or how long it takes," Scott added.

However, residential school survivor Evelyn Kormaz expressed skepticism about the collaboration.

“The devil is in the details. We have to know the details before anybody agrees to releasing these documents," Korkmaz, a survivor of abuse at the notorious St. Anne's Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., told CBC News. 

Korkmaz said she wants to access her personal records from her time at St. Anne’s as a means of making sense of what happened to her. 

"We've been disappointed in the past. So I don't want to get my hopes up and get these documents and find out that they were redacted," she said.